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Friday, February 24, 2017

City of Emeryville Attempts to Derail Civil Case in Yuvette Henderson Shooting

Summary Judgement Sought by Police 
in Wrongful Death Civil Case

Lurid, Grisly Courtroom Details From High Powered 
Police AR-15 Fire

Police Shooting "Illegal" Says Attorney
Woman Unarmed When Killed

Details of the killing of Yuvette Henderson by Emeryville police in 2015 were finally publicly revealed in a packed courtroom as Dan Siegel, an attorney retained by the Henderson family laid out the grisly last moments of the Oakland woman's life as part of a wrongful death civil case heard at the District Federal Court in Oakland Thursday.  Attorneys hired by the City of Emeryville, who contend Ms Henderson pointed a gun at the police and so were within their rights to kill the woman, attempted to stop the case in the hearing with a hoped for a summary judgment that will be decided by Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu on March 28th.
Mr Siegal showed forensic evidence that puts the Emeryville Police Department's claim that the woman "drew down" on one officer into question and further showed the last shots fired, including the kill shot by the police at the African American woman, were done after she had been incapacitated and unarmed.

Dan Siegel, the plaintiff's attorney in the emerging civil case said Ms Henderson may have had a gun but he noted that is immaterial to the illegal killing of her.  He testified that witnesses and a nearby security camera reveal there were three distinct volleys of fire from the Emeryville police officers on Ms Henderson.  Forensic evidence was presented that determined Ms Henderson was struck in the side of her chest on February 3rd, 2015 with a round from the police AR-15 rifle in volley two that passed through her right arm, shattering it and causing her gun to fly back at least six feet behind her.  After a pause, as Ms Henderson lay on the ground severely wounded and disarmed, is when the EPD officer with the assault rifle fired the kill shot from his assault rifle as part of volley three, striking Ms Henderson in the head as she attempted to lift her head Mr Siegel testified.

The police contend Ms Henderson had been involved in a shoplifting at Home Depot and she walked several blocks south to just inside Oakland on Hollis Street when they arrived at the scene. Officers maintain Ms Henderson was waiving the gun all around wildly when they got there.  They opened fire after yelling for Ms Henderson to drop her weapon.  She was not struck in volley one but after a pause she was shot in volley two when she faced one of the officers with the AR-15 and "drew down" on him with a pistol police said, regardless of the fact that she was struck in her side with the AR-15 round in the barrage of fire.  The other officer at the scene had a service revolver and was not successful in hitting Ms Henderson.  The police version of the 'draw down' was not corroborated by a witness questioned after the shooting.  The officers say they were fearful for their lives as a result of the gun in her possession.  After Ms Henderson was injured and on the ground they maintain she was attempting to get back up in order to rearm herself.  The video reveals the police did not yell out for the woman to stay down before they killed her.
The Emeryville Police Department admits Ms Henderson did not fire the revolver at their officers or anyone else at any time during the melee.  The two officers involved in the shooting had body-worn cameras but they were turned off according to the police.
Mr Siegel said there was testimony from the police taken after the shooting that changed after the existence of the security video was announced some days after the shooting took place.  Some of their testimony is contradicted by the video he said.

At a large gathering outside the Federal Courthouse on Clay Street after the hearing 11 AM, exiting courtroom attendees told the Tattler if Judge Ryu allows the case to go forward, the City of Emeryville will be forced to pay restitution to the family of Yuvette Henderson, an eventuality many gathered in solidarity with the Hendersons think likely.

There has been public outcry after the killing of Ms Henderson over the fact that the Emeryville police now routinely carry the high powered military style AR-15 rifle.  The killing of Yuvette Henderson is the first shooting by Emeryville police with their newly issued AR-15 rifles.  Colt AR-15 rifles have been determined to be assault rifles by the State of California and they have been banned for civilians.  The Chief of Police for the City of Emeryville says the State of California is wrong and the Colt AR-15 rifles Emeryville police carry are not assault rifles but rather simple sporting rifles as the NRA says.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

League of Woman Voters Brainstorm Called

From the local League of Woman Voters chapter:

The League of Women Voters Berkeley Albany Emeryville is hosting a brainstorming session Tuesday, February 17, 2017 from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley (across from the Ashby BART station).  The event is free, and we encourage registration.

TUES, FEB 21, 7 PM 

Are you energized by the Election or the Women’s March? The League wants to hear your ideas for effective post-election action! Our “Post-Election Action Brainstorm” will be on Tuesday, February 21st from 7-9pm at the Ed Roberts Campus. We will share our current projects, identify new avenues to affect change, and discuss follow-up action. Snacks and beverages will be served!

We want your ideas!
Want to find out about and support the post-election action of the national and state League via quick emails, phone calls or more?  Here’s how to do it:

Diz Swift

RULE Meeting

From RULE:

Residents United for a Livable Emeryville

Making our city a great place to live and work!  Come and plan for the year ahead with your progressive neighbors.

Next Meeting:  We're at Doyle St. for Saturday meetings 

Where:  5514 Doyle St., first floor common room
When:  Saturday, Feb. 18, 10:00 - 12:00 AM

       -Laura McCamy of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee             priorities for 2017

        -Planning and goals for RULE in 2017

Bring breakfast and tea provided

 See you there!  Judy Timmel, RULE Steering Committee

Thursday, February 9, 2017

City of Emeryville Suspects Black Women

City of Emeryville's Comfort Zone: 
Racist Stereotyping

All Black People Implicated As Crime Suspects 
 No Other Physical Descriptions Offered

Once again: Nothing about age, hair style/color, facial features, body type/height, clothing, or any other helpful descriptions.

Emeryville Police Chief
Jennifer Tejada

'Black females are suspects
in the Gap robbery'.
The City of Emeryville wants citizens to know there was a robbery at the Gap store at 5690 Bay Street in December and there are two "Black female" suspects still at large in that stolen merchandise case.  The City wants the people of Emeryville to be on the lookout for any Black females because they might have committed the crime and the police department needs help bringing them to justice.  To help citizens identify the suspects, the City of Emeryville tells us the females are "Black"....  No further descriptions are offered but the City thinks that's good enough to help us track the criminals down.  If it doesn't help directly solve the crime, it will likely get the citizens to look at Black females with more suspicion.  Perhaps that's the real reason for the paucity of descriptions offered by the City of Emeryville's crime blotter.

December's listing is from the Emeryville Police crime blotter published by the City of Emeryville every month.  The December Bay Street robbery with its two Black female suspects is added to the November robbery the City alerted us to at 6399 Christie Avenue with its three "Black male" suspects and the 3839 Emery Street shoplifting case involving a "Black female", both cases offered in the Emeryville Police Department crime statistics blotter posted on the City's website.
In all these cases, no other descriptions are offered by the City other than the 'Black' race and gender of the suspects.  It's likely enough to get many citizens to look at all Black people more suspiciously.   And that's seen as a good thing by the City of Emeryville.  We know this is true because they wouldn't have posted the crime blotter in November and December without physical and other descriptions of the crime suspects otherwise.

Emeryville City Manager
Carolyn Lehr

'Black males and Black females
are crime suspects in Emeryville.
Help us find them'. 
After the Tattler alerted the people to this racist practice by our city last month, the City has now doubled down on the racial stereotyping in its publicly posted crime blotter.  Whereas before, it could have been seen as possibly nothing more than insensitivity, epic insensitivity, now it's obvious this is all intentional.  Implicated in the racist stereotyping is the Chief of Police Jennifer Tejada and the City Manager Carolyn Lehr.  The Chief of Police works for the City Manager and the City Council hires the City Manager.  Starting next month, if the public posting of the crime blotter goes on depicting Black people as suspects (or any other people for that matter) without any other descriptions offered other then gender, the City Council too will be dragged into this.  They've been warned.
Watch this space.

From Emeryville's December crime blotter:
Robbery: In District 5 at The Gap, 5690 Bay St., four females concealed clothing in a bag and attempted to leave the store without paying. As the employee grabbed the merchandise from one of the suspects, the suspect punched the employee. The suspects then fled the store with the loss. LOSS: Miscellaneous clothing. Suspects: #1 Female, unknown race, wearing a white pom pom hat, long braids, and a light colored jacket. #2 Black female with short red hair, no further description. #3 and #4 Black females, no further description. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Emeryville City Council: 'I Got Your Pledge of Allegiance Right Here'

City Council Sticks It To Trump/Fox News

After voting at their last meeting to dispense with the public administering of the loyalty oath known as the Pledge of Allegiance before each City Council meeting, tonight the Council led the first halting if out of key rendition of the populist collectivist Woody Guthrie song from the Depression era, 'This Land Is Your Land'.  It's out with God and country and in with godless communism in Emeryville.  The minute right wing Council matriarch Nora Davis is out the door, her (formerly) beloved Emeryville City Council goes all flakey.  What's next?  Providing accountability at City Hall?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

More Demolition in Emeryville's "Area of Stability"

Emeryville's Last Stand of True Family Friendly Housing in Peril

Detached Single Family Residences Make Way For Apartment Blocks in Triangle/North Emeryville Neighborhoods

Big Changes Coming to the Areas of 'Stability'

1 :  the quality, state, or degree of being stable: such as   a :  the strength to stand or endure :  firmness 
2 : the quality or state of something that is not easily changed or likely to change

News Analysis
As development pressures continue to mount in Emeryville, another detached single family home faces the wreaking ball in order to make way for another techie four-plex on Ocean Avenue as was presented at a Planning Commission study session last week.  The looming demolition could represent the beginning of a gathering storm of such single family to four-plex conversions in the City's last traditional family oriented neighborhoods despite prohibitions spelled out in the General Plan against demolition in designated "areas of stability".  The Ocean Avenue development is in such a designated zone and to move it forward, the City is re-interpreting the word stability to include the ability to demolish, a expansion of developer prerogative from only two years ago.  Further, the City is now interpreting language encouraging density embedded in the General Plan to exacerbate and actually encourage the demolition of the remaining single family residences in Emeryville, a subversion of the idea of stability.

Detached Single Family Home
The first choice for actual Emeryville families but
limited to the Triangle and North Emeryville
neighborhoods. The last true family friendly 

housing and a feeder for the School District.
The 1270 Ocean Avenue four-plex development proposal (presented at the January 26th Planning Commission meeting) would dramatically increase the building height over the existing single family home as well as the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) on the property and of course it would also increase the residential density.  Those qualities are all within the bounds of Emeryville's zoning ordinance for the neighborhood (with development bonuses) and in fact the demolition and increase in density has earned the developer coveted FAR bonuses allowing for much less landscaped or open space on the site.

The City's realignment to interpret the zone of stability to mean a zone of demolition has moved the needle a far amount in just two years.  At another site (also on Ocean Avenue) the community was in an uproar when a developer bought a single family home with an eye to demolish it to build a four-plex but the City invoked the stability clause in the General Plan.  That move prompted the developer to let the home sit vacant for several years letting rot to take hold of the unmaintained structure.  The developer then made a successful argument that the home was beyond repair and he was granted permission to build his four-plex.

That was then, this is now.  Now the staff doesn't even see the idea of demolition as problematic.  At 1270 Ocean, the staff is encouraging the approval of the project but they didn't even bother to tell the Planning Commission at the January 26th meeting the proposed development falls within the zone of stability as identified by the General Plan, a designation meant until recently to curtail such demolition conversions.

Apartment Building
Despite some three bedroom units, families don't 

 want to live here.  Developers throw in children's 
play equipment but families vote with their feet.
The staff's failure to disclose to the Planning Commission decision makers the fact that 1270 Ocean Avenue falls within the zone of stability may be an omission that's more than an oversight.

'Stability' Taken to Mean 'Demolition'
Outside of Emeryville, the word 'stability' is generally used to mean 'not anticipated to change substantially' and 'the strength to stand or endure'.  Even here, the General Plan itself uses the standard definition; in its designated areas of stability in town, the General Plan states "Areas of stability are those parts of the city that are not anticipated to change significantly in character, land use or development intensity over the next 20 years [the life of the General Plan]. "

The definition of the word stability becomes more expansive in the way the staff now sees it, including demolition of the stock of single family homes in town: "Stability doesn't mean NO change" a staff member who wished anonymity told the Tattler regarding 1270 Ocean.  The salient part of 'stability' according to City Hall is not the enduring nature of the housing types but rather that the new apartment buildings fit in with the character of the neighborhood in the aggregate as is spelled out in the General Plan the staff tells us, apparently lacking a sense of irony.

The Last Developer Battleground in Emeryville
The City Hall expanded definition of stability will serve as a windfall for developers seeking avenues for profit after the 25 year Emeryville building boom.  The boom has left the older residential neighborhoods, the areas of stability, the last place left to turn a profit.  The last three large development projects in town, Anton/Nady, the Marketplace and Sherwin Williams (primarily residential developments) approved last year, together collectively represent the last of the large residential projects that will be built in our town for at least 20 years (the average lifespan of a typical commercial building being about 30 years).  Residential developers, long given the keys to Emeryville by City Council majorities over the years, now have few opportunities left here and so it is understandable they would turn to the zones of stability to eek out the last little bit from our town.

A quick back-of-the-napkin calculation shows the potential for handsome profits; home prices in these two Emeryville neighborhood zones of stability run about $500K to $600K for a fixer upper.  Tear down costs are about $30K and building costs run less than $1 million for a four-plex.  Sale price would be about $800K for the upper end market (times four) leaving about $1.5 million made over six to eight months.  After financing costs are figured in, a tidy profit remains.  That's not enough to interest the biggest developers we've been attracting up till now but plenty of mid-sized developers would gladly enter this field.  All it takes to get the party started is a re-defining of the word stability to open the floodgates to developers.  And that's something the staff at City Hall has already taken care of.

The Late Great Single Family Residence
This is how the City of Emeryville defines
a stable neighborhood.
Single family detached residences are by far the most popular type of housing for families.  Among other advantages, the private backyards associated with this kind of housing permits young children to play unattended, parents the time to do the myriad things that need attending to besides their children.  This kind of housing is abundant in the suburbs and it's the primary reason young parents often decamp for the leafy hinterlands.  Emeryville's housing stock at this point is only a small fraction detached single family (and it's all in the zones of stability), but the two zones of stability are the biggest feeder areas as a percentage for children attending the Emery Unified School District.
But after developing the rest of our town, it is here, the last low density places left in Emeryville where developers now turn to extract their profits.   The word 'stability' is meant to stop this from happening regardless any new interpretation by City Hall.

With a staff willing to overtly turn the meaning of the word stability on its head to facilitate the remake of these last traditional neighborhoods in town, some might find it curious that the General Plan uses the word stability to describe what should be done with the single family home neighborhoods when it presumably would be easier to facilitate the demolition of these last homes in Emeryville without that word in the Plan.  Why is the word stability used for the North Emeryville residential neighborhood and the Triangle neighborhood in our General Plan?

The idea of the zones of stability rose up when during the public vetting process for the formulation of the new general plan in 2009, residents were alarmed that the staff was pushing such an increase in density for our town (compared to our former general plan).  The allowable huge building height increases and residential density increases over the old plan were a cause of concern for the residents.  The zones of stability were added to mollify criticism because at that time, most Emeryville residents lived in these zones.  Now after so many new apartment projects having been built outside the zones of stability, this is no longer the case it's helpful to know.

1270 Ocean Avenue
The little home on the right with the gardens and
large backyard will become a three story wall.
The final irony is that unless the new building replacing the former single family residence has at least 10 units, the project need not be constrained by Emeryville's family friendly housing ordinance.  Thus, 1270 Ocean Avenue at four units (eight if the ground floor bedrooms with their own baths and separate entrances are subsequently rented out via Airbnb) will not be built as a 'family friendly' project.

1270 Ocean Avenue, while certainly not the first demolition of a single family home in a zone of stability since the new General Plan was certified, will add to the precedent being built up that will prove harder to resist if a resistance were ever to be mounted.

Amend the General Plan
The drive for home demolition in East Emeryville is further buttressed by a provision in the code that makes density like a one way check valve; it can only go up, never down.  A tear down of a duplex say could only happen if the developer built at least a replacement if not a triplex or more.  And that means over time the zones of stability will be completely made over and Emeryville's last single family residences will cease to exist.
A fix for the bad optics for Emeryville, its oft repeated claims of being a family friendly town running at cross purposes with language that encourages demolition of the most family friendly housing in town, would be to amend the General Plan.  The most obvious amendment would be to eliminate the zones of stability altogether to remove the hypocrisy.  Another amendment could be to keep the zones of stability but remove the language that encourages developers to demolish these family homes.  The City of Emeryville is probably most comfortable leaving be the mutually exclusive provisions ensconced in the General Plan.  It's the path of least resistant even if it is so easily construed as hypocritical.

Map from Emeryville's General Plan
1270 Ocean Avenue is located between Ocean and Peabody Lane; the zone of stability